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Nantucket readers of these letters, written by Reuben and Lydia Pinkham, will recognize many things as familiar. There are complaints of the cost of living in Nantucket, the lack of selection, and the school committee having major conflicts. There is also plenty of new information - how to cook eels, for instance, and interestingly, lots of gossip of Nantucket relationships. Constant throughout the letters is the expression of affection, respect, and love for each other.

An attempt has been made to identify individuals referenced in the letters.

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The Letters:

17 May 1827
From Reuben and Lydia Pinkham, Nantucket to Parents, Bethel
Re: arrived safely; Lydia sea sick; daughter Harriet had whooping cough

4 August 1827
From Reuben and Lydia Pinkham, Nantucket to Parents, Bethel
Re: Chiefly conditions in Nantucket; Aaron Mitchell and Paul Gardner are at law about some oil, Paul is a "cold hearted, cheating, shadbellied scoundrel"; Samuel Haynes Jenks of the Nantucket Inquirer being attacked; Reuben writing for the paper sometimes; people eager for imported vegetables; daughter Harriet starting to walk, well behaved; Priscilla keeps a shop with beer, cakes, etc.; town is gloomy.

26 March 1828
From Reuben Pinkham, Nantucket to Parents, Bethel
Re: Mary Gardner coming to Ohio; at town meeting, many expressed objection to free schools and the school committee issue is very contentious; after having been living with Lydia’s father, they now have set up their own house

1 October 1828
From Reuben and Lydia Pinkham, Nantucket to Parents, Cincinnati
Re: Cost of produce and meat; eeling

15 November 1828?
From Reuben Pinkham, Nantucket to Parents, Bethel
Transcription only
Re: News of William Worth, Uncle Bill, George Myrick and store; sending pumpkin seeds; verbal tour of island as he searched for two missing children; expensive to live on Nantucket.

8 July 1830
From Reuben Pinkham, Nantucket to William Pinkham, Bethel
Re: living with young children in another’s house is a “horror”; bought a house on same street as Mr. Swift’s meeting house and within two houses of being opposite to what was Mrs. Baxter’s Shop, was built for Parson Swift; cost as much to support him on last trip as it did Lydia and the children; ‘peace offering’ is a desk; “persons who were clamorous against the Admiral [Isaac Coffin] and Captain [Alexander] Pinkham now hang their heads”; Harriet and Charles in the Walley House School; mentions George Myrick, Dr. Sweet, Benjamin Glover, Aunt Hussey, Henry Swift (1793-1862)

23 July 1834
From Reuben Pinkham, Nantucket to Parents, Bethel
Re: home after 37 months at sea; worked on board a whaleship

30 November 1834
From Reuben Pinkham, Nantucket to Parents, Bethel
Re: father’s letter to George Myrick talked about all through town; numerous South American offers, but financially unable to afford the entertainment costs; location of house on Orange Street; on committee trying to get streetlamps in, “the aristocracy that once ruled the town has become extinct – Jared Coffin, RR Bunker, Paul West and a few others disapprove…”

7 November 1835
From Reuben and Lydia Pinkham, Nantucket to Parents, Bethel
Re: arrived safely; Lydia had never eaten venison; train went off track on trip and passengers put it back on track

15 July 1838 p. 1-4
From Reuben Pinkham, Nantucket to Parents, Bethel
Re: family life, report on the schools

15 July 1838 p. 5-8
Re: family life, report on the schools